With revenge on their collective minds, the refreshed San Jose Sharks took advantage of their New Year’s break and handed the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 shootout loss.
Five days previous, the Canucks used the overtime session at the HP Pavillion in San Jose to continue their run of success in San Jose. Andrew Ebbett redirected a Kevin Bieksa point shot for his 4th goal of the season. Fast forward to Monday night at Rogers Arena, where the Sharks reeled in a tired Canucks squad playing it’s fourth game in 6 nights. Vancouver had won the first two games of the season series in San Jose. The Sharks’ (defenceman) Dan Boyle spoke to the style of the burgeoning rivalry between them. ”They’ve been close (games). They’ve just been on the winning side of it.”
Cody Hodgson, named the games’ first star with the tying goal in the third period (that forced overtime) and an assist, mirrored Boyle’s sentiments. ”We always have tough games against them. We knew that coming in what kind of game we were going to play. We just would have liked to be on the other end of it.” For more Sharks’ hockey coverage, visit here.
Early in the extra frame, Dan Hamhuis fired a quick slapshot towards the Sharks goal with Niemi sliding laterally across the cross, desperate to cover the short side. The puck hit the post, bouncing out off Niemi, somehow staying between his legs. During the shootout, Ryan Kesler also rang one off the inside of the post, with a hard wrister that beat Niemi glove-side, but failed to bulge the mesh. The Sharks’ third shooter, Michal Handzus, used his long reach to feign a backhand move which Luongo partially bit on. He then snapped one high to the blocker side, giving the Sharks their first road victory in 5 attempts, stopping a two game losing skid. ”I just go in where (Luongo) is standing and then just shoot it or fake it,” noted Handzus. ”Pretty simple. It went in for me.”
Luongo, who was named the game’s third star, had a strong game, stopping 33 of 35, finishing with a .942 save percentage. ”I wasn’t able to read it properly off the stick and it was able to find the corner there.” The Canucks, sporting the league’s best powerplay percentage, have tailed off the last 7 games with the man advantage, scoring twice in 17 attempts. Head coach Alain Vigneault summarized the recent power outage.
“Our execution may be a tad off, and when you’re a tad off, with the quality of goaltending and the quality of penalty killing in this league, it’s challenging.” But Vigneault hinted that the current production is a momentary hiccup. ”These guys have my total confidence that we’re going to get back to the level we expect on the power play.”